Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I came across these sentences with their translations:

Du bist aus Berlin gekommen. - You have come from Berlin.

Wo seid ihr so lange gewesen? - Where were you so long?

From what I have read on the subject, Perfekt is used for completed actions and is sometimes translated with past simple, and sometimes with present perfect, depending on the context. Since these sentences were taken out of context, I have the following questions:

  1. Is it possible to translate the first sentence also as "You came from Berlin."
  2. Is it possible to translate the second sentence also as "Where have you been so long?"
  3. Is there any rule when to translate Perfekt with past simple and when - present perfect?
share|improve this question
    
Good and proper translations rely heavily on context. Sometimes one language may state something in the present which would be translated in the past or future tense in another language. Context dictates the proper answer. It's difficult to come up with too many hard and fast rules that won't have exceptions anyway. Just a side note. ;-) –  Kevin Apr 20 '13 at 15:38
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

This question seems to be more about English than German grammar actually...

  1. Yes. "You came from Berlin" means the action was completed in the past. The present perfect indicates that the action is not complete or has still influence on the present. So "You have come from Berlin" is used, for example, right after the person arrived.
  2. Yes. Actually, This sounds more natural and I don't know in what context the simple past would make sense.
  3. See 1.
share|improve this answer
    
So it can be translated as either, and it depends not on the German sentence, but more on the use of the English tenses? –  fluffy Apr 20 '13 at 10:16
    
Exactly. The usage of tenses is not as strict in German as it is in English. In spoken German, people use almost exclusively Perfekt, while in written German the usage is more like in English. –  Anke Apr 20 '13 at 10:39
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.